As a student, it’s easy to get caught up in everything from classes to relationships to extracurricular activities. College is a new and exciting experience for most students, but that doesn’t mean your health has to suffer.
No matter how busy you are, making your mental and physical health a priority will help to make your collegiate years easier and will allow you to get through them feeling better about yourself.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be difficult to prioritize your health (and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money — we know you might be short on both!). So what can you do to stay healthy as a student?
Better Health on a Budget
Between getting help from parents and working part-time jobs, the average college student brings in about $1200 of income each month. But between meals, transportation, housing (if you’re not on campus), and other living expenses, that money can disappear quickly. Some students simply don’t have time for off-campus jobs, and others don’t have families with the financial means to support them. So the old stereotype of college students being on a tight budget is often true.
But that doesn’t mean you need to live off of ramen noodles. You can eat healthy in college, even on a budget by:
- Doing your research on healthy options, both on-campus and off
- Cooking your own meals whenever possible
- Making smart food substitutions
- Avoiding processed food as much as possible
If you’re worried about how to stretch your budget and stay on a healthy eating plan, something as simple as planning ahead can make a big difference. Determine how much money you have to spend on food each month, and plan out your meals accordingly. Eating out usually ends up costing more, so cooking at home will not only be healthier but more cost-effective, and you can stretch out your ingredients. Look for sales at your local supermarket, and when possible, compare store-brand items with more expensive brand names. You’ll often see the ingredients and nutritional contents are the same, and the store-brand items are a fraction of the cost.
Chances are, you’re using technology all day every day. Whether you’re attached to your iPhone or Android or you’re taking your Macbook with you to class, only to open it up again when you get back to your room.
So why not utilize technology when it comes to your health, too? There are plenty of wearable fitness devices on the market today. But two of the most popular are the Apple Watch and FitBit. One nice thing about the Apple Watch, if you’re an iPhone user, is that it can connect with your phone and allows you to make and receive calls, send text messages, keep track of your calendar, and allows for more personalization. Different brands and models of fitness trackers will monitor different things, but many of them keep track of:
- Your daily activities
- Calories burned
- Active minutes
- Sleep tracking
You can also customize some of these trackers and the apps they link to by setting reminders or ‘alarms’ to go off periodically. These alarms can help you to know that it’s time to take a break from whatever you’re doing. Maybe you’ve been studying for an hour and you need a mental health break. Or, maybe you’ve been stuck inside and a reminder will tell you it’s time to get out and take a walk around campus to boost your energy.
Make Preventative Health a Priority
When you’re in college in your late teens and early twenties, it’s easy to feel invincible. Most students around that age are relatively healthy and you’re probably not thinking about the risk of diseases that could be prevented.
But by focusing on preventative health now, you can be proactive about your health in the future. Many different health conditions can be prevented with proper care. For example, Type 2 Diabetes is often linked to obesity — something that, for the most part, can be prevented. College students aren’t immune to weight gain. In fact, one study has shown that one in four Freshmen in college gain 5% of their body weight throughout their first year of school.
If you’re on campus, it can be a good idea to talk to the university’s physician or nurse practitioner about strategies you can put into place to stay healthy and reduce your risk of obesity and the potential illnesses that can arise from it.
If you’re already struggling with some kind of chronic pain, whether it’s from illness or injury, it can be easy to forget about other aspects of preventative health. So, make sure to take care of your pain in a safe and effective way. Everything from eating healthier to physical therapy can help people to manage chronic pain. Or, you might consider trying an alternative treatment solution, like CBD oil.
Your collegiate years will be unlike any other time in your life, so don’t take a single second for granted! With that being said, you can enjoy every bit of it that much more when you make your health a priority, and take care of yourself from the inside out.